How to read a scholarly article

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Narration: Hello. Welcome to our short video on how to read a scholarly article. Journal articles can appear daunting and often make for dense, dry reading. But they generally follow a standardized format. Once you understand the structure of each article, knowing where to look for important information will make the content easier to understand. It is not necessary to read an article chronologically. Jumping around and reading parts out of order could save you time and may help you determine if this article is appropriate for your purposes.

Narration: First, read the abstract. The abstract gives you a quick overview of the key components of the article, so you know what to expect. Ask yourself, does it pique your interest? Are you curious about the study? Next, skip ahead to the end of the article and read the discussions or conclusions section. This will sum up the article and help you decide if it's worth continuing to read. Ask yourself, what surprises you? What limitations does the author disclose?

Narration: Now, return to the introduction. The introduction is a map that will show you how the author is planning on approaching the subject. Ask yourself, how are they planning on conducting the research? What is the purpose of the study? Is it important for your own research? At this step, you should be able to determine if the article is appropriate for your purposes.

Narration: If it is, move on to the body of the article, which contains the finer details of the research, such as the methodology, data and analysis, and results section. Knowing the conclusions, limitations, and findings already will give you a deeper context to understand the study from start to finish. Ask yourself, is the information presented without obvious bias? Is the author transparent on how the study was conducted and data collected? Is the author citing other resources to support their statements?

Narration: The literature review will provide context by discussing the existing research on this topic and how the article contributes to that research. Think of the research as puzzle pieces and how they all fit or sometimes not fit together. Ask yourself, is the author agreeing or disagreeing with what others have said about this topic? Is the study valuable to your field? Once you have determined that this is, in fact, an important article for your research, go back to the beginning and reread the entire article chronologically.

Narration: Don't forget to take good notes as you read. Summarize each section of the article in one to two sentences in your own words. This helps you to quickly find relevant information later. And don't forget to write down the page numbers, so you can cite the information correctly. Evaluate the article. Ask yourself questions. Who conducted the study? What makes them an expert on this topic? When was the article published? Is it in a peer reviewed scholarly journal, a book, a government document? Is the information appropriate to your needs? Can you verify the information and other sources? Are there any weaknesses?

Narration: When you come across terms that you are not familiar with, look them up on Google or another online browser. Have a tab open in your browser where you can quickly search for a better understanding. Finally, don't forget to look through the literature review once more, as well as the reference list for additional research on this topic. You can then search for those resources in the Walden library. If you cannot locate them, just go to ask a librarian.